SW Florida restaurant changes Naples, Ft. Myers, etc
- LilMsFoodie May 3, 2008 12:24 PM
Lots happening with the end of a pretty lackluster "season". A difficult time for most restaurants, big chains as well as the smaller chef owned places.
Since I live in Fort Myers, I'll report these things and I'm sure others will add later:
1. Harold's on Bay will close and leave downtown Fort Myers with no real fine dining establishment unless you want to count The Veranda. Harold is keeping his tapas style bar open next door H2, but Harold's will close in the next week or so. At one time he was going to open in South Fort Myers but it is a difficult time to try a new place.
2. RedFish BlueFish has closed on Tarpon Bay Rd on Sanibel and Sweet Melissa's has opened in the same spot.
3. Toro is gone and some new Shannon concept is open. It is called Bacchus for now but he has some crazy idea about "Swanky Food". His Cru concept was "Lush wines" or some such.
4. Angelinas is open in Bonita Springs. Looks to be very high end Italian. I think we could use a very good Italian restaurant. Nothing ever quite comes to a first quality level here.
5. The disastrous location at the Fort Myers Country "Club" has claimed another restaurant which will not be missed. The dreadful "Syl's" lasted about 2 years, 2 years longer than it deserved. The new place is called the Edison. It is almost impossible to have the city as your landlord, and that and some very cheap golfers, make the location impossible.
My mom went to an event at Bacchus last weekend. She said the food was good... not great, but good. I was sorry to see Toro go. I actually liked it and it brought something different to Fort Myers. Also sorry to see Harold's go. Again, one of those places that was by no means fantastic, but it was a great local spot. I wish he would have gotten rid of H2 instead. I did not enjoy the one experience that I had there. Food was a bit lackluster.
Hey LMF, have you tried my favorite Ft. Myers restaurant yet, Sasse's? They recently expanded their hours to include a lunch service a few days a week, and also instituted a special multi-course prix fixe for early dinners. They have also eliminated their split charge, which I thought was a more than reasonable policy considering the generous size of most of their entrees. Great place, excellent food coming from their gorgeous woodburning oven, and hands-on proprietors who really care.
Thank you for the heads up to all, on Fort Myers. I don't get up to Sanibel as often as I'd like.
Redfish Bluefish is mainly a name change, per friends in the area. Chef Melissa has been there a couple years, and has a solid following, She took it over (bought if from previous owner?), added her name, and is said to serve same/similar quality food as before. I've not eaten there yet, so am curious.
Harold's closing is a real loss. He worked so hard, and the construction kept business away for over a year. He'll bring some dishes next door to H2. He's creative, great on marrying different spices and ingredients, and has been one of the top handful of chefs in SW Florida. He's a genuinely nice guy as well. I wish him the best in continuing H2's fine quality
Thistle Lodge has been a favorite of mine for years. A new chef took over months ago, I haven't tried it since then. It is one of the most romantic settings around, perched on the Gulf.
There's a new Chinese place in North Naples to check out-Harvest Moon Modern Chinese. It's in the corner by Naples Tomato, next to Sam-Bucco's.
I enjoy Naples Tomato, be nice to have a trio of good places in the small plaza.
re: An Insatiable Appetite
I like Harold and his wife and his staff is close knit. At one time he was thinking about a new Harold's on Daniels. Probably not a good time.
Thistle is one of my favorites. I wonder if they will keep the wine flights with dinners.
Another closing noticed yesterday: Jalapeno's. It was a fave of the hispanic community and their fortunes have waned with the poor construction economy. I didn't like them as much as Cantina Laredo, but they definitely were superior to others like Iguana Mia.
Anxious to hear about the Chinese place. Looks like it is not owned by Asians but an Italian. LOL. Perhaps in the PF Chang's mode? LMF
I stopped by Harvest Moon Chinese, just long enough to try a few apps-a shooter of their tender plump PEI mussels with coconut, ginger, and an intoxicating chili bite to it, and know I'll be back for a real tasting. The BBQ pork was tasty tender, and had a good sauce. The spring rolls were crisply fried, and had fresh ingredients. There already are some regulars for dinner, and the outdoor bar is cool, shaded, and the staff is numerous and friendly.
How smart is it to open a third Chinese restaurant 1.5 miles from delicious Charle Chiang's, or 2 miles from PF Changs? Pretty smart. Their advantage is their lower price point, different take on things, and their prices are the same for lunch and dinner. Also, it's a more casual place, and looks to fill a different niche, than CC or PFC's.
I went to Fort Myers' Cru last night, and their food continues to lead the pack in taste and, well, beauty. This is what graces the pages of Art Culinaire magazine. I flipped over the Miso Glazed Diver Scallops, the Beef Satay, smiled when I tasted the difference between the red and gold beets in the Pan Seared Tuna...I could go on and on, if I wasn't such a slow typist.
CIA and Daniel Boulud trained Exec Chef Brian Roland has a new menu for summer with generous portions, good prices, and the fact that the bar and restaurant can be nearly full on a weekday, off season, says it all. They are soon opening for lunch; a great way to sample things. The 4-7 happy hour has two- for -one "steals", and is no secret among the Bell Tower regulars! I loved the Asian Beef Satay for $8, and the Sun dried Cherry Chicken lettuce wraps for $9. Best deal is the Grand Cru app tower, with the lettuce wraps, steak sliders with shaved Manchego cheese, and tapas platter for $28.
Since I live in Naples, I "save up" for a drive North, and have my eye on H2 and Casa Napoli next.. Maybe some of SW Fla chowhounds can do a "food tasting", meet over a table at a lucky restaurant, and trade stories! Val may be the catalyst!
re: An Insatiable Appetite
My visit to Cru was completely disappointing..big bar crowd, not much in the way of dining. Loved Harold's when I went to Ft. Myers Rep and will be very sorry to see that go....Just came back from Cafe Napoli which I had been dying to try but thought would be futile in season with so few tables....Had been told it was the best in Ft. Myers...well, not off season...veal marsala came nuked in thick flour marsala sauce with burnt, yes burnt black sprig of rosemary for garni! Horrible potatoes underneath. Flan came with burned crust! and first glass of house chianti was turned. Other than that, the service was cheerful and prompt...the surroundings adorable and friendly. Wait til season to try this one and hopefully you can get in. Friday night in June, forget it.
The Sky Bar was very sleazy and people would go up there for a drink with that great view and leave very quickly. Little flimsy paper cups of crappy wine do not make for a good place. Everything is on hold downtown until the streetscape is finished and even then, I am not encouraged. I don't think Char is any great loss.
I expect to see many more closings this off season. Restaurants that have supposedly closed for the summer may not reopen. I recently went to Cru for a third time in 2 mos. (I live close by in Whiskey Creek) and still don't see what is so great. We did the tiered appetizer with a bottle of wine. If I did not know that the kitchen "cares", I'd have said that some of the items came from Costco's freezer section. Nasty little won tons with an insipidly sweet sauce, Ahi tuna that was so rubbery, I had to smell it first. No smell, but also no taste. What was it. Little end bits of cheese and some stale toasted bread. Dinner there was just o.k. and really not ok for the cost. Lunch was a joke.
Fort Myers is a wasteland for now. No more realtors, developers, and builders throwing money around.
On a happier note: Anyone been to Angelina's?
The News Press favorably reviewed Angelina's a few weeks ago. If the link doesn't work, from the main page click on entertainment>dining>drop down box under last review. Click on "Angelina's is not just another..." I'm looking forward to trying it too when we're there next month.